£1.57 million pot to increase in-house residential care places in Calderdale
Calderdale Council has taken a step further towards establishing more in-house residential care for its looked-after children, with a £1.57 million pot to buy and refurbish extra properties.
Initially Calderdale Council’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead for council officers to look into buying two properties in the borough and draw up works required which will turn them into suitable homes.
Then in the private section of business at April’s meeting of the full council, councillors agreed the recommendation to add the money to to the council’s capital programme to buy and refurbish the properties.
They will do this through prudential borrowing – by which councils can borrow money at special rates – over 25 years and the aim is that the new properties are developed on an “invest to save” basis.
For several years members of the council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board, and other councillors, have been concerned about the extremely high cost of external residential places which are required for the very specific needs of some of the children the council looks after.
Debating the issue last December, Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley) said the cost of the placements had alarmed her.
“We have procurement officers looking for the best deal for us for children with very special needs but some places are somewhere between £3,000 and £4,000 per week,” she said.
This is against a “supply and demand” backdrop throughout the country – there are not enough places for the number of children who need them and this has driven up the cost with private providers.
Councillors believe more provision “in house” will be better value for money and also believe, except for situations where a child needs a home outside the borough for their safety or some types of specialised care, that it would be better for the young people in care to be looked after in their own area.
This meant they would be near their families, friends, schools and social workers, said Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) when he presented a report to Cabinet outlining the business case before it came to full council.
The council has been developing a unit at Alloe Field View in north Halifax, although progress on it was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with full council approving the finances it is hoped two more units can be developed in the borough.